Asian Koel Chicks in House Crow’s Nest, Chennai

by Rama Neelamegam
Rama Neelamegam

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

Brood parasites (koel in this case) are organisms that rely on others to raise their young. The koel manipulates a host (crow) to raise its young as if it were its own, and lays its egg/s in the crow's nest.

I saw this sight of House Crows (Corvus splendens) feeding koel chicks in their nest opposite our home in Mylapore, Chennai, on the 5th of August, 2018. I waited until the next morning to be able to make an image right from the terrace (with no disturbance to the birds).

I heard the chicks calling whenever the foster parents came, and found that there were four nestlings, two slightly older (bigger) than the other two. I soon realised that all four were Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopaceus) chicks, and not crow nestlings. After a few days, two of the chicks flew to the neighbouring coconut tree, while two remained in the nest. The parent crow was shuttling back and forth between the nest and this coconut tree to feed them all equally.

Brood parasites are organisms that rely on others to raise their young. The strategy appears among birds, insects and some fish. The brood parasite (koel in this case) manipulates a host, either of the same or of another species, to raise its young as if it were its own, using brood mimicry, for example by having eggs that resemble the host’s (egg mimicry).

I was very happy to document this instance of brood parasitism!



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